best book to learn spanish

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What is the best book to learn Spanish? Choosing the best book can help accelerate your learning process. In this post, you’ll read about 11 books for learning Spanish – and which one is our reader’s top choice in 2021.

best book to learn spanish
But first, a little about our methodology.

How We Choose the Best Book To Learn Spanish

While polls and surveys are okay, they aren’t very accurate. Why? Because people are notorious for lying on surveys. It seems that either a hypothetical and/or social desirability bias makes us give less than honest answers.

The best way to vote is with your wallet.

A purchase of a product is as unbiased of a vote as exists. (Of course, nothing is free of bias, but an anonymous purchase comes close.)

Over the past number of years, we’ve linked to many Spanish learning books that we’ve purchased or that came recommended by our readers. So to determine the best book to learn Spanish – we analyzed our Amazon reports. These reports detail the all books that readers actually purchased through our site.

Here are some of the posts that we’ve published in the past few years: Books We Used to Learn Spanish | Madrigal’s (Review).

Ready to get started? Lets go!

Best Book to Learn Spanish (Reader’s Choice)

The total number of copies is based on actual sales from the past 12 months (January 2021 through to December 2021).

While this list includes the 11 most popular books for learning Spanish, our readers purchased a total of 2000+ copies of Spanish learning books over the past year.

1. Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish

(677 copies: 604 print and 73 Kindle)

This is the best book to learn Spanish, according to our readers. And it is the most helpful book we used.

One of our first Ecuadorian friends loaned us a copy during our first week in Ecuador.
Check current price on Amazon.

There are great shortcuts and tips that accelerated our process. Highly recommended! It has 512 pages. Read our review.

2. Practice Makes Perfect Series

(203 copies: 173 print and 20 Kindle)

This is a large series, that includes: Verb tenses, sentence builder, grammar, all-in-one, vocabulary, pronouns and prepositions, conversation and basic Spanish.

Many of these books, including the Spanish Verb Tenses, come with audio recordings via their Language Lab app.

Check current price on Amazon.

We haven’t used these – but they are super popular among our readers. They have 200-350 pages.

3. Breaking Out of Beginner’s Spanish

(123 copies: 106 print and 17 Kindle)

I’ve had this book recommended to me a number of times. One long-time expat called it “The best Spanish book I read, and which I still refer to”.

Check current price on Amazon.

The book is now on its 20th Anniversary Edition. This long life is uncommon among language books – and speaks to its quality. It has 236 pages.

4. Easy Spanish Step-By-Step

(233 copies: 214 print and 19 Kindle)

This is a new one for me. Until readers started buying it, I had never heard of it.
It comes very well reviewed and is listed as one of the top books in Spanish language instruction. It has 320 pages.

Check current price on Amazon.

5. Lonely Planet Spanish Phrasebook & Dictionary

(38 Copies)

This book is a consistent best seller and is currently on the 7th edition. Lonely Planet describes itself as “The world’s #1 phrasebook publisher”.

This pocket-sized phrasebook is great for travel and comes well-reviewed. It has 272 pages.

Check current price on Amazon.

6. Easy Spanish Phrase Book NEW EDITION

(82 copies: 77 print and 5 Kindle)

This has over 700 everyday phrases. And they are organized by category to make it easy to find the expression you’re looking for.

This is a great book to stick in your backpack/briefcase while traveling. We really benefited from the phonetic spellings of the Spanish words.

Check current price on Amazon.

At 96 pages, this is the smallest (and the cheapest) book on the list. But for just a few bucks, it’s hard to go wrong.

7. Spanish English: Bilingual Visual Dictionary

(35 copies: 30 print and 5 Kindle)

This one is a little different than the other books on the list.

It uses color photos to build vocabulary and ensure that the meaning is clear. It is laid out by topic instead of alphabetically, like a traditional dictionary. It has 360 pages.

Check current price on Amazon.

8. 501 Spanish Verbs with CD-ROM and Audio CD (501 Verb Series)

(23 copies: 21 print and 2 Kindle)

For verb tenses, this was the best reference book we could find.

It is not an easy read, but it will teach you how to conjugate 501 verb tenses. The first 40 pages explain the different verb tenses and how they work.  You’ll use this for many years.

Check current price on Amazon.

Highly recommended. It has 736 pages.

9. Pimsleur Spanish Basic Course

Without doubt, this is the best Spanish language learning audio.

From my experience, the majority of expats will vouch for Pimsleurs as the way they actually learned Spanish.

You can get this on audio cd, as a computer program or (my favorite) via Audible. Audible (an app on mobile or pc) remembers where you finished off and you can just pick up there again – without any searching. And because its 100% audio, you can learn on the go.

Check current price on Amazon.

See more about the Pimsleurs concept. You can get a free lesson to give it a try. The program from Pimsleur ranges from free to a monthly subscription cost.

10. Spanish Verb Workbook

(16 Copies)

This is very similar to 501 Spanish Verbs (see #8) but more hands-on as you do crossword puzzles, exercises and topic reviews. The book comes with a free download of more than 90 minutes of instructional audio.

Check current price on Amazon.

I never used it (I like audio learning better) but Dena used it and had good success. It has 432 pages.

11. Standard Deviants Super Spanish (4 pack)

(15 Copies)

So this one is kind of fun – and no, it isn’t a book. But if you tire quickly of studying Spanish from a book, this is a good option.

The pack comes with 4 DVDs for a total of 330 minutes. They cover basic and advanced concepts – including verb conjugation and masculine/feminine nouns. Most of these discs are available individually as well. 

Check current price on Amazon.

the best book to learn spanish

As you settle in with your new language, you’ll want to express your feelings. Here’s how to say “I love you” in Spanish.

More reading: Guide to The Best Way to Learn Spanish (Immersion, Books, Classes, Resources, Basics…)

What about Pimsleurs Spanish?

We don’t have the data from Pimsleurs to show how many readers have chosen this tool. But it is a favorite of ours. If you just want to give it a test, get a 7-day trial for free. After that, there is a monthly subscription fee.

But even if you subscribe for a whole year, it will cost less than a week class we took in Cuenca, Ecuador. But you probably won’t need it even half of that time. 

What’s Your Best Book For Learning Spanish?

Now it’s your turn. What is your favorite book for learning Spanish? What book or course has worked especially well for you?
Please join us in the comments below!

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  1. Learning a new language is as if you have conquered a new land or new civilization. I want to learn new languages, and I feel interested to learn Spanish. Thank you.

  2. I’ve worked my way through your #1 Choice, Madrigal’s Magic Key, and I took some classes using Easy Spanish Step by Step. I’d also recommend an on-line resource, Duo Lingo, for practice. Having done that, I can read level A1-A2 books;
    I haven’t tried more difficult books yet, or serious conversation.
    I like Madrigal’s idea of starting with the past (preterite) tense–I think that makes more sense for reading and conversation.
    I didn’t find “Easy Spanish” particularly easy, but it is thorough. There’s not nearly enough practice–one sentence is not enough to learn an irregular verb–and some of the topics don’t even have exercises. But that’s a problem with most printed books. (Except Madrigal, which essentially lets you create your own exercises by combining words in all possible combinations.)

  3. My favorite has to be ‘A Good Spanish Book’. I bought the top four books on the Goodreads lists and that one was the only one that helped me and my wife finally get a good base in Spanish. The system is modern and the author is a professor from Spain, so he knows what he is doing.

  4. After trying three or four, my personal recommendation is ‘A Good Spanish Book!’ I wish I had started with that one from the very beginning.

  5. On Madrigal’s “Magic Key To Spanish” being fifty years old, if an American born speaker of American English walked out of a restaurant in 1970 and discovered is was 2020(!) that person could communicate effortlessly. If a dictionary is fifty years old ( l have one ) are we afraid the definition of ‘to romanticize’ will be different? Yo bra’, it dope!

  6. Hi! Great post, but isn’t -Madrigal- a book written in the 1960s? It would be hard to learn Spanish with a book from 50 years ago. In all the rankings I see -A Good Spanish Book- in the first position, so I think I will be trying that one. Why isn’t it even mentioned on the list? It was written in 2016 or 2017.

  7. I am confused. I opened one review on the Madrigal and they saud the book was for the Latin Spanish.
    Though, can you help me find a textbook for exactly the European Spanish? Exactly for it. Please 🙂

  8. I also liked this post! I am enjoying this site a lot 🙂 My favorite choice for a Spanish book for beginners is “A Good Spanish Book!” in Amazon. I also enjoy lists of verbs and a collection of flashcards from Pimsleur, but in books that one is amazing.

  9. I like “Destinos”. There is a video series to go with the book. It is available on the Internet free. It is like a soap opera in Spanish, with 52 episodes. I am listening to it for the 2nd time and understand the conversations better now than the 1st time.

    1. Don’t you think that in half a century the language has evolved and changed? Spanish is alive and I don’t want to speak like a grampa from decades ago… I would prefer to speak the language as it is spoken nowadays. Anyone learning Spanish from the 1950s from a Guatemalan author instead of a Spanish or Mexican one from our time will have lots of troubles doing business or making friends speaking with outdated terms and expressions. Just my two cents on the matter. Thank you for reading.

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